Why Is Assisted Living So Important?
Like a notable segment of the population, you may need clarification on what assisted living is. On the one hand, you may be similar to many individuals who equate assisted living with a nursing home. On the other hand, you may not really know what assisted living is because you’ve never thought about it.
Davis Zavik, in his book, Assisted Living: Everything You Need to Know to Compassionately Care for Your Elderly Parent, describes assisted living as a “form of long-term care best described as a halfway point between independent living and a nursing home.” He writes that these facilities are particularly important in the 21st century and will be crucial moving forward into the future. He makes notes that the primary reason why assisted living facilities are essential today and will remain so into the foreseeable future is because of the increasing number of senior citizens in the overall U.S. population.
Baby Boom Wave of Seniors
The statistics regarding the growth in the senior population in the United States and around the world are stunning:
- 10,000 people are turning 65 every day in the United States
- 4,000 people are turning 85 each day in the U.S.A.
- Over 76 million people in the Baby Boomer cohort live in the United States today
- Born between 1946 and 1964, the tail end of the Baby Boom cohort is moving to their 60s right now and is on the precipice of becoming a part of the senior citizen brigade (people over 65)
Accommodating the needs of the huge population of Baby Boomers truly is the primary reason assisted living is so important right now, perhaps more important than ever at any other point in history. Beyond the sheer number of aging people who will begin to need assistance with activities of daily living and different types of support and care offered by assisted living, there are some other specific reasons why assisted living is vital:
- Medication management
- Three nutritious meals a day
- Comfortable living environment
- Housekeeping and laundry help
- Security and safety
- Medication Management
A majority of seniors take medication. A majority of that majority takes more than one medication. Thus arises the need for effective medication management. That is an area in which an assisted living community proves its importance. Over 80 percent of people living in a typical assisted living community utilize medication management assistance.
Three Nutritious Meals
For many reasons, many older Americans do not maintain the healthiest diets. Failing to maintain a nutritious, healthy diet has significant implications for overall wellness. The provision of three healthy meals (and snacks as well) is a second key reason why assisted living is so important.
Comfortable Living Environment
On some level, assisted living presents the best of two worlds. First, an assisted living community provides a resident with a comfortable apartment or room, a private space with the attributes of a home. Second, common areas in an assisted living community provide residents with space to socialize, participate in activities and programs of different types, and visit with or entertain family and friends who visit.
Space to socialize was mentioned a moment ago. One of the significant reasons why assisted living is essential is because it provides seniors a chance to socialize and develop meaningful friendships. Despite the large number of Baby Boomers who have reached or are fairly immediately heading into their Golden Years, a large number of this cohort experience loneliness regularly. Thanks to assisted living, the lives of lonely seniors can be enhanced through regular socialization.
Housekeeping and Laundry Help
Standard features of an assisted living community are housekeeping and laundry help. While some people think that assisted living limits a person’s independence, because this type of facility provides housekeeping and laundry services, residents actually have more time to engage in activities they enjoy. More time to do what a person enjoys does translate into expanded independence.
As many people grow older, they stop driving themselves. In addition, there is a notable number of people in the Baby Boom cohort who limited their driving for what can be an extended period. For reasons unrelated to age, they elected to use other forms of transportation throughout much of their adult lives. An important feature of assisted living is the provision of transport for residents.
Security and Safety
Sadly, one only needs to pick up a newspaper or tune into a news broadcast to learn about the stories of older people victimized in some manner. Those over the age of 65 are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of crime. Assisted living provides a secure living environment for this targeted segment of society.
In addition, there are safety issues when an older person lives at home alone. For example, if a medical emergency arises when a senior lives alone, there often is a delay in getting assistance to that person. An undue delay in receiving medical aid can aggravate the initial issue that gave rise to the need for this type of assistance.
In assisted living, an effective safety net exists in the form of a resident needing emergency medical assistance being able to get that type of aid promptly. As a matter of routine, the staff is always present in an assisted living facility to promptly ensure that emergency medical help is provided to a resident in need.
Currently, there are well over 30,000 assisted living facilities operating across the United States. As the need for these types of long-term care facilities grows as more Baby Boomers move into their Golden Years, this number is likely to increase (and likely significantly so).